The Douglas Aircraft Company presents “Birth of a Jet,” a circa 1958 16mm promotional movie for the Douglas DC-8 jetliner. The corporate/educational color film opens by touting jets as “the new symbol of commercial aviation” and we see a DC-8 jetliner streaking across the sky and flying past San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge (mark 01:08). Douglas has been a pioneer in aviation, the narrator remarks starting at mark 01:50, since the first flight of the DC-1 in 1933, followed by all the other aircraft in the line as their images appear on the screen. While Douglas also has made a number of contributions to the military such as with the Douglas X-3 Stiletto (mark 02:35), the A-F Skyhawk “Mighty Midge” and the F4D Skyray, the company remains committed to the commercial industry. Showing its manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California (shown at mark 03:45) the film captures the work on DC-8 jet airliners being conducted inside the plant. By mark 05:50, the film captures a new DC-8 being rolled out of a hanger in 1958. The narrator highlights many of the design elements of the aircraft before showing it make its first take-off run (mark 08:10). As the aircraft continues to roll off the production line, the narrator explains that crews also are undergoing training so routes can be established. Following a look at conceptual drawings and scenes of the interior decor (mark 09:55), ranging from the 122 seats in first class to 144 seats in the “tourist cabin” as well as a roomy lounge (mark 11:11). As the DC-8 is shown streaking across the sky the narrator explains that the final element of the aircraft is dependability as the film draws to a close.
The Douglas DC-8 (also known as the McDonnell Douglas DC-8) is a four-engine long-range narrow-body jet airliner built from 1958 to 1972 by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Launched after the competing Boeing 707, the DC-8 nevertheless kept Douglas in a strong position in the airliner market, and remained in production until 1972 when it began to be superseded by larger wide-body designs, including the Boeing 747, McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. The DC-8's design allowed it a slightly larger cargo capacity than the 707 and some re-engined DC-8s are still in use as freighters.
The DC-8 was announced in July 1955. Four versions were offered to begin with, all with the same 150-foot-6-inch (45.87 m) long airframe with a 141-foot-1-inch (43.00 m) wingspan, but varying in engines and fuel capacity, and with maximum weights of about 240,000–260,000 lb (109–118 metric tons). Douglas steadfastly refused to offer different fuselage sizes. The maiden flight was planned for December 1957, with entry into revenue service in 1959.
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